Before you can start to run faster, you have to spend a whole lot of time running slower; increasing your aerobic efficiency. This is perhaps counter intuitive for many, given the focus on HIIT today. High intensity interval training does have its place, but will only be effective once you've built an adequate aerobic base first. It’s the single biggest factor that will enable you to run further and faster.
It involves a high volume of easy, low-to-moderate intensity activity and should constitute upwards of 90% of your total training time. This element of your training enhances the efficiency of the muscles to produce energy aerobically, primarily using fat as the main fuel source.
Aerobic Efficiency runs make up the majority of the Group Training sessions and help build up your volume of running. Each one is an opportunity to indulge in nice, slow, easy running; training your aerobic capacity and leaving you with plenty of breath to chat with other members.
The key to effective aerobic efficiency training is having an accurate understanding of your Aerobic and Anaerobic thresholds (available through Lactate Testing), and targeting the intensity of your training accordingly.
Therefore, working with you as your Personal Trainer, we establish these threshold markers through either Lactate Testing or more general fitness tests. With these understood an effective and progressive plan is devised, using personalised heart rate training zones, to optimise your training and meet your specific goals.
You wouldn’t build a house on weak foundations. The same principle should apply to how you prepare your muscles for the demands of running. Including regular strength training not only increases your capacity to tolerate a greater volume of running but has also been shown to help lower the risk of injury. Strength training = more running. So why wouldn't you?!
The 3SIXTY approach to strength training places an emphasis on functional exercises and movement patterns that will more directly apply to running. The exercises either improve the force production of the key muscle groups involved in running or contribute to building a strong and stable core that both improves running technique and the transference of power from upper to lower body. The result? Measurable performance improvements.
Group Training sessions are designed to develop a broad foundation of functional strength that will benefit every runner. The sessions include Strength and Conditioning focused to improve your; muscles ability to produce force, posture, movement patterns, technique and resilience to injury.
Working with you as your Personal Trainer we identify your unique strengths and weaknesses, through physical and observational assessments, to tailor a functional strength training programme specific to your needs and goals.
Another major factor in improving your running is developing local muscular endurance; the ability to do many repetitive movements over a sustained period of time. Do you tend to slow towards the end of a run? Do your legs feel heavy and lose their bounce? During faster runs do you start to feel a burn? Do downhills really hammer your quads, leaving you without a kick for the rest of your run? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you would benefit from improving your muscular endurance.
The weekly Group Training sessions introduce a few focused muscular endurance exercises, although these are used judiciously, as I can guarantee you will feel it!
Working with you as your Personal Trainer, full muscular endurance workouts will be incorporated into and progressed across the duration of your training programme; both in the form of uphill intervals and dedicated PT sessions.
Remember the easy, low-to-moderate intensity training discussed above in developing your aerobic efficiency? The 90%? Well, this is the other 10%. The high intensity training. This is focused on developing your anaerobic energy system. This is where we develop speed and get used to running at race pace and above. This is where we develop your capacity to remove and use lactate as fuel (in other words improve your lactate tolerance).
This is the fun stuff. Tempo runs, intervals, hill sprints and bounding! They're also demanding runs. So these training techniques are introduced every couple of weeks into the Mid-Week Mix (oh and there's a sprinkling of Speed Strength for the Fearless Friday session too!)
Once again, as with aerobic training, an accurate understanding of your Aerobic and Anaerobic thresholds is important to target the intensity of these runs correctly.
Therefore, working with you as your Personal Trainer, we establish these threshold markers through either Lactate Testing or more general fitness tests. With these understood effective, progressive and very specific training runs are advised using your personalised heart rate training zones.
Developing your strength, endurance and energy systems to run faster is one thing, however there’s more to consider in relation to speed. Gracefully floating across gnarly terrain, attacking the downhills or responding to a competitor’s sudden turn of pace requires finely tuned motor skills. Your balance, agility, coordination and reaction time all come into play.
Honing these skills will not only improve your speed, but the exercises and drills involved will also strengthen ligaments and stabilising muscles, particularly in common injury sites of the ankles and knees.
The Motor Skills and Drills workouts are challenging, fun and also a good aerobic workout. These workouts are incorporated into the Mid-Week Mix on alternate weeks to the Speed Strength run.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines durability as “the ability to withstand wear, pressure, or damage.” Any form of physical training is putting your body under stress and continually damaging muscle tissue. Whilst this is necessary to create the adaptations and performance gains we seek, too much of a good thing will inevitably lead to overtraining and/or injury. Unless we create the right conditions for the body to cope with all that stress.
The 3SIXTY system terms these conditions as the development of Durability. This requires a focus on flexibility and mobility, conditioning of injury-prone areas, appropriate rest, a modulated training programme, and an informed and healthy approach to your daily nutritional and hydration needs.
The weekly Group Training sessions always include flexibility and mobility exercises, whilst week-to-week different exercises are introduced to condition common injury sites in runners (from your feet and ankles right up to your hips).
Working with you as your Personal Trainer, we continue with this focus however it is tailored to your specific requirements. Perhaps an area you've injured in the past or particular areas of limited flexibility and tightness. You'll also benefit from advice around healthy eating, nutrition and hydration to support your training programme; balancing rest, recovery and effort to safely and effectively progress your performance.